When Christopher Columbus “discovered” the Americas by bumping into Hispaniola, indigenous Taino and Carib tribes had lived here for thousands of years. Unfortunately, much of their history was tragically destroyed by centuries of colonial rule, but here in the hidden Pomier Caves, thousands of original Taino rock drawings date back nearly 2,000 years. In total, it’s believed that nearly 5,000 pictographs are etched on the walls of 55 different caves—although visitors are only allowed to visit a single cave in the complex. Even so, nearly 600 drawings of animals and birds are found throughout the cave—scrawled on the walls in primitive paint made from animal fat and charcoal.
It’s believed the humidity of the subterranean caves has kept the drawings so well preserved, and while limestone mining in a nearby quarry has threated a few of the caves, others were protected by the Dominican government by establishing the small reserve. Despite the relative lack of infrastructure and light amount of crowds, the caves are one of the best examples of pre-Columbian native artwork found in the entire Caribbean chain.
The Pomier Caves Anthropological Reserve is located 16 miles west of Santo Domingo outside the town of San Cristobal. Admission is approximately $10, and the reserve is open from 9am-5pm daily.